Sean O'Malley's return to the Octagon is going to have to wait a bit longer after the fighter was again suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and pulled from the UFC 239 fight card.
O'Malley had been slated to return opposite Marlon Vera at UFC 239 on July 6 in Las Vegas following a six-month suspension handed down late last year after testing positive for the banned substance Ostarine. He was clear of that suspension in March of this year, but a recent drug test leading up to UFC 239 has once again put him on a temporary suspension. O'Malley announced the suspension via his social media on Friday.
"USADA has notified me that Ostarine, the substance that showed up in my system last year and led to USADA sanctioning me, has resurfaced at an extremely low level in two recent tests. The good news is that USADA says this is most likely residual from last year and that the low level is providing me with no performance advantage. That's why USADA is not re-sanctioning me for these results," O'Malley wrote.
"The bad news is that the Nevada State Athletic Commission has temporarily suspended me while they look into the situation. While I feel terrible to let down my fans who were looking forward to watching me fight in Las Vegas next month, I look forward to publicly discussing my case before the Nevada State Athletic Commission with scientific experts who can explain why very low levels of Ostarine are showing up in my system."
Though that knocks O'Malley off of the UFC 239 fight card and delays his return, he took it as an opportunity to help further clarify why this has happened. UFC vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky confirmed the situation to ESPN, but added his own positive spin on it, agreeing that this was an opportunity not only for clarity on O'Malley's situation, but for clarity in low-level results drug testing in general.
"I feel very bad for Sean," Novitzky said. "I feel very bad for all his fans that were looking forward to watching him fight in Las Vegas. But there is a part of me, there is a part of the UFC that actually, in the long run, likes what Nevada is doing, because once again everybody is gonna get that chance in a very public forum to hear those experts talk about this substance, to talk about anti-doping now that you're able to detect at such low levels."
Novitzky said that O'Malley is likely to have his day before the NSAC in late July, where much attention will likely focus on the ability of Ostarine to have a residual pulsing effect, similar to what Jon Jones has experienced with oral Turinabol.
O'Malley is undefeated in 10 professional mixed martial arts bouts, including two UFC bouts. He quickly surged into becoming one of the top prospects in the UFC bantamweight division and was a fast fan favorite.